Here’s the thing to know about IoT in 2017: It was the calm before the storm — a year for setting the stage for future IoT success in 2018. We’ve seen that technology expand well beyond the already active markets — personal fitness, home automation, commercial building management and appliances — into more sectors than ever before. The emergence of IoT technology is spreading and is will be impacting entirely new areas including agriculture, livestock management, crop storage management, health management and even personal wellness (i.e., not just monitoring, but proactive health advisement).
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As more companies jump on board the IoT bandwagon and the technologies for deployment, productization, distribution and — most importantly — security mature even further, 2018 will see the following IoT technology trends:
- Security: It’s no secret to anyone in the business that security will be the ever-present concern of the industry. The good news is that with blockchain development expanding and being deployed into applications beyond currency encryption, including building and industrial systems security, we will start to see some breakthroughs in security. But realize this will be a never-ending cycle of countermeasures and evolving threats.
- Industrial IoT: Watch this space and I predict you will see dramatic growth. Aided by the now robust and more secure cloud systems, such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and GE Predix, corporations can enjoy low-cost technologies with minimal set-up efforts. Applications will move from just monitoring and messaging to predictive analytics, allowing industrial and commercial products to drive specific pre-emptive reliability related activity.
- Europe: New global markets will see increasing IoT activity as the European Commission is slated to issue new guidelines in 2018 that will stimulate data market activity by incentivizing the use of IoT technology.
- Partnerships: Let’s make a deal — the time is right for carriers and IoT systems developers to partner, and this will have an increasing impact on wide-area, low-cost systems. As companies such as Sprint offer reduced-rate data packages to corporations, tracking assets within larger areas will be easier and more accurate with related cost savings as a result.
- Outdoor IoT systems: The doors are now officially open and outdoor IoT applications will become more ubiquitous this year. Think Citi Bikes, an early example of hardware as a service taking off in big cities, and Disney, using IoT to improve the customer experience by shortening lines, ensuring faster service, offering customized options and more. Increased use of RFID, LoRa and other technologies will fuel this trend. Also look for new applications such as real-time locationing in parks and airports.
- New software: The burgeoning need for rapid, lower-cost deployment of IoT systems will drive an increase in the use of modular SW building blocks which are easily customizable for applications such as asset tracking and traffic management.
- More wearables: The market for personal wearables will remain an important niche with new partnerships between tech and fashion creating new, seamless user experiences and visibly enhanced aesthetics tailored for specific markets. The emerging drivers will be more than just monitoring and observable data. The frontier is on using monitored and tracked data to drive health improving behaviors.
- Health IT: The growing need for both HIPAA-compliant and non-compliant health IT products will create multiple opportunities for developers and IoT systems engineers. The consolidation of physicians’ offices into affiliated group practices and of hospitals into healthcare conglomerates with large business units, means that patients and staff will benefit from new applications that include tracking and locationing. Additionally, look for continued IoT enablement of predictive and proactive health monitoring allowing those with severe or chronic conditions to safely remain at home or be safely placed in the lowest cost point of care.
The coming year will be a breakthrough in IoT usage and applications across industries of all kinds. The ubiquitous nature of IoT will be evident and the technologies driving the usage will continue to emerge and evolve to meet the important needs of deployment, distribution and security. As always, the winners will be those with a clear value proposition. It will be insufficient to be smart and connected without a business or consumer value proposition. Watch out because 2018 will be something else.
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